A Fan Club, a Fart Tape, and a Tabloid Scandal
In November 1991, ABC’s Primetime Live aired an investigative report targeting Robert Tilton’s television ministry. This chapter highlights the report’s tabloid-esque style, and in particular material intended to amuse viewers at Tilton’s expense. This included “video proof texts,” short clips of the preacher produced by the Trinity Foundation, an anti-televangelist ministry that collaborated with Primetime Live. Tilton’s troubles would spur the growth of his “unofficial” ironic fan club, which expanded its publishing efforts and hosted a “tribute” night to the televangelist, during which attendees playfully participated in the unfolding scandals. This event also featured the screening and sale of an especially sought-after participatory media artifact based on the preacher—the Tilton “fart tape”—the origins of which are revealed.